No Bells… the notion that there will be no Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach this year due to the coronavirus still hasn’t really sunk in.
They have never cancelled a Bells Beach surf contest. The contest has moved around over the years from Bells to Winki Pop to Johanna Beach and even Phillip Island one year but it has never been cancelled.
Since 1962 surfers from around Australia have descended on Torquay each Easter weekend to watch the first surfers in the world compete in one of the most iconic waves in the world.
This year there will be no contest, no grandstands, no traffic jams and no ringing of the famous Bell in the Bells Beach carpark at the end of the men’s and women’s events. It is surreal to think that for the first time in almost 60 years the world’s longest continuous surfing event will not run.
This year’s event was full of questions and keep anticipation. Would four times Bells winner Kelly Slater turn up and for the last time dance and blast his way across the waves? Would John John Florence return to his 2019 form and blitz the event in big waves? Would Bells get big waves and once again put the fear of God in more than a few professional surfers from overseas who don’t always feel comfortable when Bells gets REALLY big and ugly?
The sad thing is that we will never know… well, not in 2020 anyway.
Some people around Torquay are pretty happy that the contest is not on… more waves to themselves but for many, it will be a disappointing weekend. No contest, no pro surfers, no HUGE parties… just a normal Easter long weekend with lots of crowds.
I’m going to miss Bells this year. I went to my first Rip Curl Pro in 1982 and have only missed one or two since. My family and surf crazed daughter love to head out to Bells to watch the surfing and hopefully grab an autograph or two.
That bloody virus…. first our toilet paper, then the footy, and now Bells. I need to find a rage room!
Written by John Foss
Photo by fb.com/whaydensmith @World Surf League — with Owen Wright.